Hit & Run and the Garage are Both Hit or Miss, But That's Just Fine"/>
The Dinner: Fried Ravioli and Polenta Fries at the Garage , 1130 Broadway, 322-2296, FIRST HILL
The Movie: Hit & Run at Thornton Place ,>"/>
The Dinner: Fried Ravioli and Polenta Fries at the Garage, 1130 Broadway, 322-2296, FIRST HILL
The Screenplate: Oh, Hit & Run. You defy lumping. It's two days later, and I still don't know what to make of you. You are a strange, unique mess of a movie; but what section of Netflix will you inhabit when it's time for you to leave the theater and venture out into the world of rental? How can I distill your essence into two words or less, so I can describe you at parties? Are you a romantic indie with a quirky sense of humor and heavy with dialogue? Or are you a Steve McQueenish, pedal-to-the-metal car chase thingy? Or are you neither of these things, and have I allowed a lifetime of conditioning to shrink my world into a series of categories, one of which everything must surely fall neatly into?
Writer, co-director, and star Dax Shepard attempts to make a movie in which testosterone and estrogen live together in harmony. But these elements are like oil and water. If left to their own devices, they will naturally stake a claim at the top or bottom half of the jar. Yet if you shake them together, they swirl around in an entertaining lava lamp display. Such is Hit & Run, romance and action shaken together, one element doing its own thing within the other, but still fun to watch.
Shepard plays Charlie Bronson, a violent ex-con in a past life, but a gentle, great guy in the current one. An incident four years ago landed him in the witness protection program, hidden away from his old gang that wants him dead. Living in the country, he and his beautiful girlfriend, played by Kristen Bell, seem to have it all. One thing leads to another, and Shepard finds himself driving his girlfriend to a job interview in L.A., outrunning a motley crew of characters, including a spazzed-out Tom Arnold playing a U.S. Marshal, and a dreadlocked Bradley Cooper in search of revenge. Shepard and Bell cruise in style, first in a 700 horsepower black-as-night '67 Lincoln Continental (owned by Shepard in real life; he also did all his own stunt driving), then in a newer Corvette, and finally--the coolest of them all--the Baja racer.
The amount of gore in this movie is jarring. It really is too realistic looking when Shepard's nose gets broken with a golf club. Interspersed with the gore and the chases, Shepard, as writer/director, attempts to develop the relationship between his character and Bell's through in-car, mid-chase gabfests, as if three cars weren't weaving in and out of traffic at a hundred miles per hour. Shepard and Bell are engaged in real life, so there was a mild amount of chemistry. But overall, it's tough to root for the couple to work out. Shepard has this annoying nasally, monotonous voice, and I want Kristen Bell for myself.
Ultimately, Hit & Run defies categorization. It's not a masculine action flick: There's too much dialogue and relationship asides; It's not a romantic comedy: There's too much adrenaline and blood. So, what the hell is it? Midway through, I had to just let it be what it is, and enjoy the good things about it. Writing this article has made me realize that approach is fit not only for watching a movie, but also for how we treat one another. Sure, Hit & Run is weird. It sort of works. It's not great, but it's not stupid either, and if you relax, let it come to you, vibe with it, and drop your preconceived notions, you could probably have a good time.
Satisfied after letting go and at peace with the world, I pulled into the Garage. It's a vast space, much like the airplane hangar which housed one of the sillier car chase scenes in the movie. Half the building is a bowling alley, and half is filled with pool tables. A small, enclosed bar is nestled in the middle. My dinner consisted of two dishes from the small plates menu: smoked mozzarella ravioli, fried and served with pesto whipped cream; and feta and green onion polenta fries with a cumin and lime yogurt dipping sauce. The dishes were all over the place, much like the movie, though I found it hard to let go and enjoy this stuff. I'm thinking Tom Arnold's character might have related to this meal, but I could not.